Obama: Patriot missile batteries, troops to stay in Jordan near Syrian border

‘CIA has been training rebels on anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons since 2012’

June 23, 2013 22:53
1 minute read.
Jordanians shout during a protest in solidarity with the protesters in Syrian town of Deraa, 2011.

Jordan border crossing Syria 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Majed Jaber )

WASHINGTON – F-16 warplanes, Patriot missile batteries and roughly 700 combat-ready American troops will remain in Jordan as a contingency force for the Syrian conflict, President Barack Obama told Congress on Friday.

Thousands of US forces were in Jordan conducting a military exercise that ended last week.

President Obama said that a portion of those troops are remaining at the request of the Jordanian government.

The decision to keep Patriots and fighter jets near the Syrian border raised eyebrows among Russian officials, who reasserted on Friday that any no-fly zone imposed by the United States in Syria would be illegal.

But the move provides significant foreign support for Jordan’s King Abdullah, who is facing pressure at home as Syria’s civil war threatens to spill over his country’s border. Over half a million Syrians have already crossed into Jordan seeking refuge, putting unexpected strains on the Kingdom’s economy.

While the White House continues to evolve its Syria policy, a report from the Los Angeles Times asserted that the CIA has been training rebels on anti-tank and anti-aircraft weaponry from bases in Turkey and Jordan since 2012.

The report, which cites rebel leaders as sources, says the US trained rebels in two-week courses on Russian-designed heavy weaponry, while not providing the rebels with the actual arms themselves.

The weapons were instead provided by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, though the shipments allegedly took longer and were smaller than expected.

The Obama administration has said it will directly provide only light arms to rebel groups, after announcing findings of chemical weapons use by the Assad regime on its own people on multiple occasions over the course of the two-year conflict.

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